This is an edited transcript of a conversation you can find on my Youtube channel (here).
In the video, my friend and fellow coach, Margy Evans, and I talk about high sensitivity, characteristics; we even touch upon change and relationships a bit.
Hello, I am Margy Evans, a life coach who works with individuals around the world, and I am joined by a dear friend today who will share with us about her work with highly sensitive people. Why don’t you go ahead and kick it off with an introduction and a little bit about what you do?
OK. Hi, hello. Hi Margy. My name is Manca Klinar, I live in Slovenia, and as Margy mentioned, I work with highly sensitive people. I am a life coach, a whole person life coach for highly sensitive women.
And I also educate about high sensitivity whenever I get the chance – that would be the most accurate description. I also channel higher consciousness, I am a curious person, and I like to learn and gain new knowledge so I can combine everything and look at things in a holistic way and from different perspectives.
It’s wonderful. So, tell me more about highly sensitive people. What does that mean?
A great topic. Haha.
So, high sensitivity is a normal personality trait. It’s not a disorder, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with a person who’s highly sensitive, and it’s an innate trait. According to research – research started in the nineties of the last century – according to research, approximately 20 % of people are born with the trait, and they found it also in more than 100 animal species. So they suspect it’s a survival strategy because the main, let’s say, the main tactic is to pause, observe, and then act. So, if enough of the population is cautious enough, the species will survive.
Hmm. So tell me about some of the characteristics, because that’s how an individual responds, so, what are some of the traits or characteristics of somebody who’s highly sensitive?
Yeah, that’s important, because – thank you – because high sensitivity is not just sensitivity, we are all sensitive to a degree, but for one to be recognized as highly sensitive, it means that he or she has to exhibit, to a certain extend or, in a certain way, four main characteristics.
So, let’s say high sensitivity means a finely tuned nervous system. The foundation of this is the first characteristic, and it’s the depth of processing. So the brain is wired in a way that everything that comes in – so all the stimuli, all of the information – is processed deeply, more deeply and more thoroughly as in the brain of other people, people who are not highly sensitive. That would show in a … maybe in the most obvious way, it is seen in children; a person who comes into a new setting will stand behind, observe, and then (that’s the internal process) when they assess that the situation is safe, they will proceed. Highly sensitive children are usually treated as they don’t know how to play or as they are shy and even dull, but it’s a strategy.
Other ways that this shows are also: highly sensitive reflect more, they think more – that also has ups and downs. And let’s start with the downs. Downs are: we can ruminate – I am a highly sensitive person, so I will also say we – we can ruminate about things that happened in the past more than it would be needed or more than other people do and we can also maybe even obsess with what might happen in the future because we are cautious; every change, everything unknown means new stimuli, new information that needs to be processed thoroughly. So that could be one side of the coin.
The other is a vivid imagination, a rich inner world, being like a bookworm, also creative … Let’s say we tend to reflect more, to think more and maybe to need more time to make decisions because we need more information, and that information needs to be processed more thoroughly so it takes more time and sometimes we might, because of it, we might seem indecisive, but that’s not necessarily true.
It’s interesting, one of the things that you talked about was the change, and the one thing that we can count on is constant change in our world and our environment. So, as a highly sensitive person, what would individuals, I mean, when you have a major change happening in your life, what are some of the things that would be needed for a person to be able to work through that?
Well, first and foremost, I think it is being aware that this is a thing – that it’s an issue for a person more than it could be. Well, maybe I can start with this. If there is something new, if there’s a change that involves new things that the person hasn’t experienced yet, that means more time is needed, and it is more, hmm, let’s say dangerous, or one fears that more. However, if that situation involves something similar to what happened before, a highly sensitive individual can draw on the analysis that was made when these things have happened, when this thing happened for the first time and is able to react faster.
So I think knowing about the trait and knowing about oneself is the first and the very important step here – being educated about the trait and what this involves, so one is not afraid of the change as much as otherwise. And being aware that the change is one thing we cannot change could also help 🙂
So as an individual, if it’s someone that has experienced something similar to what’s happening they can draw on that past experience and feelings to be able to move through it, so if you know you have a partner or a child or a friend who is highly sensitive and you see them potentially drawing back or struggling it’s just that they need more information – is that it, am I hearing that correctly, that they need? Since they don’t have the lived experience before being able to receive information, sit back, and process it in order to move forward, is that correct?
Yes, that’s correct, and I think the most important thing if you have a partner or a child who is highly sensitive or even a parent. It’s important for you as a significant other or a person that’s with them, it’s important also for you to be aware of what the trait means, what it involves, how it shows, and what the person needs. Because the last thing someone that’s afraid of change and anxious and nervous needs is someone who pressures them or tells them, “Don’t worry.” Or “Why are you so obsessed?” Or “Calm down, calm down!” That’s not going to help anyone. So, maybe first – after knowing what it is – to offer a safe environment, understanding environment, and presence and support with dealing with this stuff.
Sometimes even presence and being quiet could be enough. Or asking what they need, not necessarily making suggestions or offering solutions because that for them might not work. I’m pretty sure it won’t work because if someone is not highly sensitive, it’s very difficult to understand a highly sensitive person, and sometimes even highly sensitive persons do not understand themselves.
We were both going at the same time. Sorry. Go ahead. Please finish.
OK, I just wanted to add that if one does not know what to do in such situations, just offer your presence, support, and compassion and ask what they need. And if they don’t know, just be there. That’s the best one can do, I think.
I think we were both going at the same time because we were having the same thought. Because early on you talked about how individuals are curious and creative and so one of the things I was thinking as you were talking is if an individual needs to have that space and time … is asking questions, being curious about where they are at to help answer or provide information – because they are curious and they have the need for that additional information.
I want to add the following:
Sometimes the best solution for a highly sensitive person, coping with change, could be not asking questions – if the person is already stressed, additional questions would only make it worse. Check with them what they want first. However, sometimes, input from a person who is not highly sensitive could help.
It’s wonderful. Hmm, so, as you are working with individuals, what are some of the things that you do to help individuals discover more about themselves and their characteristics and how to maneuver and walk through life, you know, their journey as an individual.
That’s another great question. When working with highly sensitive people, I think it’s most important first to educate them so they would know what they are like. Meaning physically as this trait. Because as this trait is just a trait, it is, at the same time, the trait that functions as a lens through which everything is perceived. So every decision, every experience is an experience through the lens of the trait. That also means that childhood impacts a highly sensitive person more because … like the echo would be stronger. Good things leave even better imprints on a person, and bad things leave an even worse imprint on a person, so it is very, hmm, I can’t remember the word, but it’s very impactful for the whole life of a highly sensitive individual.
So when I work with them, we first go through their life as it is in this moment so that we both have a perspective of what their life is right now, and with that, we usually touch upon the past or certain things where I offer them the link to high sensitivity; I explain that this might be linked to high sensitivity and how things turn out. Mainly I educate a lot but in terms of connecting that to their experience. I offer information, and they can then integrate that with everything we talk about.
And with that, I’d like to add another three characteristics, so I don’t forget because that’s important. All four interact with each other, influence each other, and make the life of a highly sensitive person the way it is because one has to adapt their life in a way to honor the trait.
So first one the first characteristic is the depth of processing.
The second one is sensitivity to subtleties. We notice what most people don’t notice, slight changes like we can see shifts in our peripheral view or slight differences, we spot mistakes, errors … it’s not always a pleasant trait because we can’t help to notice. But this is also … it comes from the brain, it’s not about the sight, the smell, the taste or the hearing – because I don’t see far very well, but I can notice the shift if something changes.
So, we notice, or we are bothered by the lesser smell, by not so bright light that other people wouldn’t be bothered, but for us, it’s too intense because our threshold is lower, we notice at a lower threshold, so our maximum is also lower. And that goes for the fabric as well, the harsh fabric like wool – everything starts to bother us sooner compared to people who are not highly sensitive. That also goes for pain, alcohol, all the stimulants, coffee, we get more “high “on everything. So that’s the second one. I tend to wander when I start talking about them.
The third one is stronger emotional reactions and stronger empathy, so it has two sides. Again, it originates in the brain. Stronger emotional reactions are linked to the depth of processing because if something needs to be processed more thoroughly, that means it has to be more important. So there need to be emotions in there. And with more emotions, there are stronger emotional reactions. And I like to say we are like this – I show oscillation with high ups and low downs, big amplitude with my hand – we react like this, we are explosive. And that goes for being happy or being sad so it goes both ways … or angry.
Hmm. And then stronger empathy. Stronger empathy has to do, again, with the brain, with the mirror neurons. In highly sensitive people, they discovered that mirror neurons are more active. Mirror neurons are the brain cells that help us learn by imitation. When we were children, we learned things that way. So these mirror neurons enable us to be able to feel what other people are feeling to an extent but most definitely to know what they are thinking or to know where they’re at. This energy goes between, we notice this, and this is also not always pleasant.
I wanted to add something here. Being highly sensitive does not equal to being an empath, I would just like to mention that. It’s a different thing, but we do have stronger empathy.
And if we take into account all of three, all of the previously mentioned characteristics, so the depth of processing, processing everything deeply, sensitivity to subtleties, so taking in one hundred stimuli instead of just twenty, being more emotionally reactive, being more empathetic, so that means a lot of stimuli coming in, being processed more thoroughly, more deeply, it has to show somewhere, right?
So the body gets tired quickly if it doesn’t receive pauses, alone time, quiet time, let’s say vacation from stimuli. So, regular daily pauses are needed. And if that is not the case, if the stimuli are too intense, all at once, or if stimuli are present for a prolonged period of time, the system gets overstimulated more easily; if this is not resolved, it gets over-aroused. If that is not resolved, it gets overwhelmed. And once overwhelmed, it takes approximately 20 minutes to recover because you are like: “I cannot take it anymore. “
For me, it’s like “I just want to turn the switch off and just evaporate somewhere, so I don’t feel it. “When I’m tired, hungry and people want something from me, it’s like “tilt “(meaning temporarily out of order, unavailable, off), I’m not here.
Thank you for sharing the characteristics. I think I feel like we could dive so much deeper into each one of them, but I know that we have limited time together today.
So, I’m hoping that we get a chance to do this again and dive deeper into each of the characteristics and then also talk more about all of the tools. Because I know you have a lot of tools in your tool belt, a lot of different ways to approach this, to help people, to help families and individuals really work through this. So, I want to say thank you for your time today, and I look forward to our next conversation where we get to talk more and more in-depth about each of the characteristics.
Anything that you’d like to add before we go today?
Yes, maybe one thing that is important. As I mentioned: to pause, to have enough quiet, alone time. And to get more connected to the body to be able to monitor what the state of the body is, what the level of energy and arousal is. And to be able to stay in the body in the present time or to keep coming back, so we don’t overwhelm ourselves. So, that would be it.
Thank you, Margy, for your great questions and for your time.
You are welcome. Thank you. We shall connect again soon. OK. Take care!
You can learn more about Margy Evans here.
You can learn more about me, Manca Klinar, here.
Would you like to work with me? The application is available here.
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